Avalanche Advisory for Tuckerman and Huntington Ravines

Posted 8:00am Wednesday May 4, 2011

Tuckerman Ravine has Low avalanche danger. Natural and human-triggered avalanches are unlikely. Huntington Ravine is under a General Advisory. You will need to do your own snow stability assessments when using avalanche terrain in Huntington Ravine. A danger of falling ice exists and will persist until it all comes down.

There are days when I’d rather not look at the weather forecasts, especially those with icons that represent each day’s expected weather for the coming week.  Today is one of those stick-your-head-in-the-sand type days.  I won’t dwell on the unsettled weather forecasted for the next 5-7 days but let’s talk about today.  There is currently a Flood Watch in effect for northern NH and we’re expected to see up to 1″ (2.5cm) of rain.  A passing cold front will be largely responsible for triggering the rain and as it marches through temperatures will fall.  Tonight they are expected to dip below freezing on the summit for the first time since Sunday morning.  You might be hoping that the drop in temps will change the rain over to snow and you’re sort of in luck.  We are expecting a transition to snow but unfortunately I think it’s going to be accompanied by sleet and freezing rain.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed for pure snow but it’s good to stay grounded in reality.  In my opinion today will be a pretty miserable day to be in the mountains.  Rain and falling temps is a recipe for hypothermia.  If you do decide to visit wear your rain gear and be conservative in your decision-making.  The snowpack is going through its annual springtime deterioration and the regular hazards are becoming more widespread.  When clouds and fog limit your visibility it becomes more difficult to pick out the following:

  1. Falling Ice is a serious hazard. You can’t know for sure when it will fall, so do your best not to spend time in locations where ice looms above. The largest ice in the ravine is in the Center Bowl and up on the cliffs above Lunch Rocks. Both of these areas send ice into Lunch Rocks. For this reason, WE DO NOT RECOMMEND LUNCH ROCKS AS A SAFE PLACE TO SIT. There are better locations to park yourself farther down in the ravine.
  2. Crevasses have formed in numerous areas. The Lip and Center Bowl have the largest and deepest of these. The Sluice and Chute also have smaller crevasses growing. We recommend you hike up the route you plan to descend so you can assess these hazards at a leisurely pace.
  3. Undermined Snow often hides running water below and it can quickly ruin your day if you break through. Snow bridges will be further weakened by the increased water levels today, so avoid traveling over streambeds and areas of running water.
  4. Traveling through the Lip area is NOT RECOMMENDED due to the open waterfall and very large crevasses. Each season the Tuckerman Ravine Trail through this area is closed due to the unique nature of these objective hazards. This week we’ll continue to have more warm weather and rain, so we may reach the point where this closure will take effect before next weekend.

 The Sherburne Ski Trail is open a little farther than halfway down. The open section is better than hiking but is riddled with moguls, bare spots, rocks and ice.  After the closure rope, please walk down the hiking trail.   

Please Remember:

  • Safe travel in avalanche terrain requires training and experience. This advisory is just one tool to help you make your own decisions in avalanche terrain. You control your own risk by choosing where, when, and how you travel.
  • Anticipate a changing avalanche danger when actual weather differs from the higher summits forecast. For more information contact the Forest Service Snow Rangers, the AMC at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center, or the caretakers at Hermit Lake Shelters.
  • This advisory expires at midnight. A new advisory will be issued tomorrow.

Justin Preisendorfer, Snow Ranger
USDA Forest Service
White Mountain National Forest
(603) 466-2713  TTY (603) 466-2856

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